The Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defense, Joseph Beti Assomo has defended the bill relating to the suppression of piracy, terrorism and offenses against the safety of maritime navigation and platforms before members of the committee on National Defense and Security at the National Assembly this Tuesday Nov. 15, 2022.
The committee session was chaired by the Committee President, Hon. Ali Salihou in the presence of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Rt. Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Dribril.
This bill aims at suppressing unlawful acts on water bodies and island waterways.
According to the bill presented by government, the rise in piracy and maritime crime, as well as escalation of offenses against the safety of maritime navigation led the international community to adopt the Convention on the Law of the Sea in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 10 December 1982.
This Convention, which was ratified by Cameroon on 19 November 1985, identifies a number of offenses and encourages States Parties to actively cooperate in efforts to suppressthem.
The incrimination system thus set up was complemented in 2012 by the CEMAC Merchant Shipping Code which established a list of illicit acts against maritime activities, while allowing each Member State to decide on the penalties to be imposed.
Lastly, the bill builds on the Yaounde Code of Conduct concerning the Suppression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in the Gulf of Guinea of 25 June 2013.
In substance, this bill comprises four chapters divided into eighteen sections focusing on the identified offenses committed, the corresponding penalties and the procedure to be followed by the judicial police officers and legal and judicial officers responsible for prosecuting them.
Some Maritime Offenses Punishable by Law
The offenses include piracy, offenses against the safety of navigation and platforms, terrorism at sea, illegal transportation of minors, unauthorized broadcasts and pollution of water bodies and other waterways.
The penalties provided for include , in principle, life imprisonment which may include a fine of fromten million CFAF to two billion five hundred million CFAF as well as accessory penalties provided for by the Penal Code.
Regarding the procedure to be followed, it should be underscored that with the exception of minors who are subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance (CFI), the offenses contained in this law fall under the jurisdiction of military tribunals, in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of Law No. 2017/012 of 12 July 2017 to lay down the Code of Military Justice.
For over two and a half hours, Joseph Beti Assomo gave reason to members of parliament why it should be enacted to law.
It is worth noting that the adoption of the bill would enable Cameroon to fulfill its commitments under the international instruments to which it is a party.
It would also provide law enforcement officers with the legal basis that was lacking in the fight against crime at sea and on waterways.
Bruno Ndonwie Funwie